The EU and Russia recognise each other as key partners on the international scene and cooperate on a number of issues of mutual interest.
The role of the Delegation involves reflecting upon political events, developments and trends within Russia, as well as between the EU and the Russian Federation, while at the same time supporting the EU-Russia political dialogue.
The Delegation thus monitors political life in the country, including issues relating to the areas of human rights, justice, freedom and security, and developments in Russia's foreign (and defence) policy.
In the current context, the Delegation aims at establishing understanding and common ground with Russia on the Ukrainian crisis. The current situation in Ukraine has hindered EU-Russia relations. The illegal annexation of Crimea and the conflict in Eastern Ukraine have seriously affected the bilateral political dialogue. As a result, some of the mechanisms of cooperation are temporarily frozen, and sanctions directed at promoting a change in Russia's actions in Ukraine have been adopted. However, Russia remains a natural partner for the EU and a strategic player combating the regional and global challenges.
Russia is the EU's largest neighbour, brought even closer by the EU’s 2004, 2007 and 2013 enlargements. Accordingly, Russia is a key player in the UN Security Council and, due to history, geographic proximity and cultural links, is one of the key players in the EU neighbourhood. Russia is also a major supplier of energy products to the EU. Russia is a large, dynamic market for EU goods and services, with considerable economic growth.
As members of the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe, the EU and Russia are committed to upholding and respecting the fundamental values and principles of democracy, human rights, the rule of law and the market economy. These values underpin the EU-Russia relationship.
The current legal basis for EU-Russia relations is the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) which came into force in 1997, initially for 10 years. Since 2007 it has been renewed annually. It established a political framework for regular consultation between the EU and Russia, based on the principles of respect for democracy and human rights, political and economic freedom, and commitment to international peace and security. Furthermore, the PCA is complemented by sectorial agreements covering a wide range of policy areas, including political dialogue, trade, science and technology, education, energy and environment, transport, and prevention of illegal activities.
Modern day challenges can best be approached through a sense of joint responsibility and understanding. The EU works in close cooperation with international partners, including Russia. A broad range of foreign policy questions, including security, are best approached through a sense of mutual understanding and concern.
Both the EU and Russia have a long record of cooperation on issues of bilateral and international concern including climate change, drug and human trafficking, organised crime, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, the Middle East peace process, and protection of human rights.
Furthermore, the EU develops a range of informal operational contacts that allow for a detailed understanding of Russian priorities and policies on international issues, provide early warning of potential problems and support the coordination of policy planning.
Ongoing EU-Russia cooperation covers 4 policy areas — referred to as common spaces:
- economy & the environment;
- freedom, security & justice;
- external security;
- research & education, including cultural aspects.
Additional opportunities for EU-Russia dialogue include:
- Permanent Partnership Councils (PPCs): allowing Ministers responsible for various policy areas to meet as often as necessary.
- Parliamentary Cooperation Committee (PCC): facilitating meetings between the European Parliament and the Russian Parliament (State Duma).
- Partnership for Modernisation: focusing on economic and judicial reform alongside support to civil society. The facility complements EU human rights initiatives such as the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) which provides support to victims of abuse, strengthens civil society and the rule of law, and seeks to ensure democratic election processes. It also fits well with successful regional cooperation across the areas of environment, transport, culture and health in the Northern Dimension Partnerships.